Reality is the playground of the unimaginative
Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Superheroes, Sci-fi, Star Stuff, Silliness, Scares, and the Supernatural

Monday, 30 November 2015

Torn From The Headlines: The London That Might Have Been...

The alt-London seen in Rise Of The Cybermen

Over on Craig Oxbrow's blog of gaming ideas, The Watch House, he shared a link to a fantastic article on The Guardian website profiling proposed London landmarks that never came to fruition.

This resonated with me as possible gaming material for an alternate London idea I've been toying with for years, for use with The Doctor Who RPG (aka Adventures In Time And Space).

I'm particularly smitten with the idea of Nelson's Globe standing in Trafalgar Square instead of the world famous column.

Not only would these proposed constructs make interesting background detail to emphasise the 'alternate' nature of an alternate world, but they could also become the focus of plot points or otherwise woven into the fabric of the scenario you're playing.

I have long had a theory that the Peter Cushing/Dalek Dr Who duology takes place in a parallel universe - quite possibly the one that Rose and "her" Doctor are now living in.

The only real corroborating evidence I have is that (a) Bernard Cribbins appears in Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150A.D. and could be that universe's equivalent of Wilf (his character in new Who) and (b) it kind of makes sense, as that parallel world - that the 10th Doctor visited - had seemingly slightly advanced technology that could explain the very human Dr Who's ability to build TARDIS.

London ruins from Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

Jessica Jones: AKA Ladies Night

Belatedly (for technical reasons) I've got round to watching Jessica Jones, the latest Netflix/Marvel collaboration.

As well as a self-contained entity, it stands as a companion piece to the fantastic Daredevil (which dropped earlier this year) and as precursor to the upcoming Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders shows.

Of all the elements in this Hell's Kitchen environment, Jessica Jones is the character I knew least about going in, and while I toyed with the idea of 'doing some research', I also thought it might be interesting to approach the character with only very basic background details... to see how she holds up under scrutiny.

Luckily, series creator Melissa Rosenberg's tight script for AKA Ladies Night tells us everything we need to know, when we need to know it.

Jessica (Breaking Bad's Krysten Ritter) is an old school, hard-boiled, private eye (complete with her own, occasional, voice-over) who drinks her hooch from a thermos and just happens to be superstrong.

Suffering from PTSD, she's juggling a number of cases when we first meet her - serving a summons, spying on bar-owner Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and tracing a missing student, Hope Shlottman (Erin Moriarty).

Unfortunately, as she investigates Hope's disappearance, she is reminded of the event - from a year earlier - that traumatised her so, involving a vile mind-controlling villain called Kilgrave (David Tennant).

Although Kilgrave never makes an overt appearance in this episode, his presence pervades everything thanks to Jessica's nightmares and flashbacks to their previous encounter.

By retracing the events that she was put through by Kilgrave, Jessica manages to find Hope and reunite her with her worried parents. Sadly, that's only the beginning of their problems.

Once again, Netflix and Marvel have delivered a very grounded character, whose extranormal abilities (her 'gifts' as they are referred to here) are presented in a very matter-of-fact way and don't distract from Jessicia's complex personality.

AKA Ladies Night is full of mystery, we certainly don't get answers to everything, but it's served up in such a manner as to guarantee we'll want to come back for more.

Adventurers Return From The Antipodes...

The three heroic explorers I dispatched to New Zealand, in late October, for painting have returned - via the Earth's core, of course!

Even this far into the 21st Century I'm still amazed when packages arrive at my door from around the globe. I guess I kind of expect a fanfare or similar acknowledgement of the distance that the item has traveled before it drops securely through my letterbox!

As you may recall way back in March I won a competition being run by Nathan (of  wargaming blog Natholeon's Empires), entitling me to have three figures painted (and mailed back).

The figures I eventually chose were from British company Antediluvian Miniatures, which specialises in pulpy, lost world-style figures.

The adventurers are loosely based on Peter Cushing, Raquel Welch and Doug McClure, as seen in such films as One Million Years BC and At the Earth's Core, which makes them a perfect fit for the Space: 1889/League Of Adventures and In Her Majesty's Name.

I'd already seen the work that Nathan had put into my figures via his blog (much better pictures than my own), but seeing them in person today has quite made my day.

Musical Monday: Ijime,Dame,Zettai (Babymetal, Live At Sonisphere)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Man Vs Nature: The Myth Of Moby-Dick...

SIX OF THE BEST: Gothridge Manor

As a Brit, I sometimes get uncomfortable singling people out for praise, but I have to say that Tim Shorts, writer of the Gothridge Manor blog, and his wife, Ivy, are good people. Over the years they have been incredibly kind and supportive to me - and Rachel - as we've bumbled through various situations that life has thrown in front of us. So, it didn't feel right to continue this feature without shining the spotlight on Gothridge Manor.

How long have you been blogging and how’d you get into it in the first place?

I'm going to guess the year, 2008 or something, my friend Rob Conley has his blog Bat in the Attic and he was pestering to start my own blog. I fought it off for a while, but slowly warmed to the idea. And with Rob's help I started Gothridge Manor. So I've been blogging since April of 2009.

What do you blog about and how frequently do you post?

Gaming and fun stuff strictly. No serious stuff is allowed on my blog, unless its serious fun. Mainly I blog about the games I'm in or things I'm working on. I'm always working on an adventure or zine or something gaming. I post about three to four times a week depending on my motivation and work schedule.

Tim publishes an irregular gaming 'zine called The Manor

How does your blog stand out from all the rest?

How does it stand out? Hmm, that would almost be for someone else to answer and that's assuming my blog does stand out. If I had to answer it myself, it goes along with the answer for question two.

I dedicate my blog to the fun of gaming, what gets me excited, what my friends and I bring to the table, real and virtual. I'm not going to address any real life situations, I'm not going to say this is right or wrong in gaming and I'm never going to diminish someone. I want it fun and lots of it.

What’s the best (and worst) thing about blogging?

Best thing about blogging is having a virtual home that folks can come to, kick back and poke around my gaming stuff. The worst thing about blogging is my inability to keep a schedule with posting.

Do you have any self-imposed rules (or guidelines) for your blog?

Again, goes to the above answers. The guidelines are to post about something enjoyable, something that gets me excited, gaming wise. Oh and I won't do negative reviews. While I don't mind getting them, it's just part of my personal policy of keeping Gothridge Manor a positive place.

Name one blog everyone should be reading (other than your own).

There are so many. I honestly can't give you one. I read many different blogs for different reasons. All have their own niche and I enjoy reading other blogs for opinions, content and gaming news.

Tim's book of Starter Adventures is available in both print and PDF

Star Wars Month: Throwing The Towel In...

Friday, 27 November 2015

Fleamarket Friday: X Is For X-Factors...

Steve Kenson's truly inspired year-long project, to support his innovative superhero game Icons with fortnightly supplements, is drawing to a close.

Having worked his way through the alphabet, this week's PDF release has reached the letter X and presents a series of tables themed around the randomness of the "x-factor".

These tables cover:
  • Crime
  • Disasters
  • Personal Issues
  • Alien and Supernatural
  • Super-Science and Technology
  • Plus some random options for quick background characters and super-names.
The six-page supplement is now available for sale on DriveThruRPG for $1.50 or you can subscribe to the whole Icons A to Z series for $25 and get all of the entries as they are released, including all of the previous entries to-date.

If I Get Any More Excited About This Movie I Think My Head Will Explode!

Fleamarket Friday: Kids Rule And Adults Drool In Arrowstorm's New Zombie Serial...

I loves me some good, live-action zombie mayhem, but even I'd admit that maybe the genre is feeling rather swamped these days.

However, the latest outing from the ever-reliable team at Arrowstorm Entertainment (the indie masterminds behind Ozombie, the Mythica saga etc) offers something a bit different, both in format and concept.

Written and directed by Kurt Knight (no relation), We All Fall Down is a ten-episode serial set in the near-future when the Earth has been ravaged by a plague that turns adults over the age of 18 into flesh-eating zombies.

The series aims to present a world built by children with just a brief window to live a full life, a mixture of Peter Pan's Lost Boys, Lord Of The Flies and The Walking Dead.

Funded, as ever, through Kickstarter, Arrowstorm is looking to raise $25,000 by December 19, to cover post-production costs of We All Fall Down, as all the eight-to-ten-minute episodes have already been shot.
After a lifetime of wandering in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Todd (an 18-year-old on the verge of transforming into a zombie) struggles to find a safe haven for his kid brother Benny; but when Todd becomes the chosen prey of a wicked young huntress (Matra), he must learn to trust and befriend other survivors before he succumbs to the zombie virus, to stop Mitra from adopting Benny into her clan of bloodthirsty savages.
Arrowstorm has a flawless track record for delivering on their Kickstarters and you can check out the various investor incentives (which range from digital downloads, DVDs, and Blu-Rays right up to producer credits, and Skype chats with the production team.

The Legend Of Krampus...

Fleamarket Friday: Classic Game Returns With Anniversary Edition...

A classic boardgame from my childhood, Escape From Colditz, is being revived by Osprey next year to mark the 75th anniversary of the game's creator's escape from the infamous Nazi prison camp.

Designed by Pat Reid, a British officer who escaped from the Colditz prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, and Brian Degas, writer of the iconic TV series based on Pat’s escape, it is often named as one of the greatest boardgames in British history.

This edition, published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Pat Reid’s escape, will feature completely new artwork painted by fan-favourite historical artist, Peter Dennis. Along with a complete set of wooden pieces, the box will include replicas of prisoner-of-war artefacts from Mr. Degas’ extensive collection.

Escape from Colditz, 75th Anniversary Edition, will be published October 2016 and retail for £49.99/$65.

I loved this game as a kid, it was the only 'wargame' I can remember playing with my dad. The other thing I remember about Escape From Colditz is that games went on and on and on as it was actually really difficult for the prisoners to avoid the Nazi guards and escape from the castle.

I'm hoping that even if I can't afford this when it comes out that Nick might pick it up to play with Alec, so I can join them at the table sometimes.

The original Escape From Colditz game

Fleamarket Friday: Make New Friends Through Necromancy...

Already funded, Cadaver is a "lighthearted game of friendly necromancy" from Triple Ace Games, the gaming gurus who brought us Rocket Race and Halfling Feast as well as a number of excellent Leagues Of Adventure books for the Ubiquity system and the Hellfrost setting for Savage Worlds.

With a buy-in of just £10 for a standard deck of 54 cards (which allows for two or three players):
"Cadaver is a set building card game where players compete to raise as many corpses as they can before dawn. The player with the best combination of corpses is declared the master necromancer and wins the game."
The Kickstarter runs until December 14, and you can learn more about the game, higher investment levels, stretch goals, add-ons etc on the game's fundraising page.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

What's On The Other Side Of The Door?

Supernatural: Girls, Girls, Girls

Just as it looked as though Season Ten was finding its feet after its poor opening, along comes Girls, Girls, Girls - a hot mess of an episode that is more a mass of sub-plots than a single, solid story.

Dean takes Sam on a detour to hook up with a girl he met on a dating app (even this feels very contrived), who turns out to be a hooker working for a demon pimp who demands payment in souls (what are the chances, right?)

This sends the Winchesters off to a demon-run brothel, only by the time they arrive the owner has been slain by a powerful witch, Rowena (Ruth Connell), who has disappeared with two of the prostitutes that she plans to train in the ways of witchcraft.

Meanwhile, Castiel and Hannah are continuing their quest to return errant angels to Heaven, until Hannah is tracked down by the husband of her vessel. This causes her to question her mission and ultimately stirs similar feelings in Castiel.

The main purpose of this sub-plot is that it helps remove a surplus character from the show who wasn't really going anywhere.

At the same time, Cole Trenton (who I thought we'd seen the last of) is still on the hunt for Dean and, what do you know, manages to track him down just as Dean has Rowena at gunpoint in a back alley.

Rowena gets away, leaving Dean and Cole to settle their differences in probably the strongest scene of the episode.

The whole Rowena and her wannabe trainees storyline feels totally random and has no purpose except to serve the story and bring the Scottish witch to the attention of the Winchesters.

Much like Dean's use of online dating, it is too contrived for a show that usually does a better job of setting up its antagonists in a believable fashion.

And let's talk about Rowena for a moment, as it looks as though she's being positioned as a major player for this season.

Her motivations, at the moment, seem rather vague, but the most annoying thing about her is her accent. Although the actress is Scottish, to my untrained ear, her character's speech sounds like it's from the Dick Van Dyke school of regional accents.

That said, her connection to Crowley - which is the big reveal at the end of the episode - is her possible saving grace, but let's see where that goes.

Next Time:

The Original Marvel Team Is Back...

Season Two of Agent Carter launches (in the States) on January 5. Let's hope Fox UK follows soon after...

Capturing That Moment When Crusaders Answered The Call Of Cthulhu...

"This is a series of illustrations that imitates the style of old medieval paintings and adds a macabre flavour by incorporating some of H.P. Lovecraft's famous monsters. The text is mostly medieval Middle High German."
- Robert Altbauer, Fantasy Cartographer

You can see the full set of Robert Altbauer's "The Crusades And Lovecraft's Monsters" over on his ArtStation page.

Massive thank you also to Al Bruno III for first drawing this to my attention.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Captain America: Civil War - First Trailer...

Captain America: Civil War picks up where Avengers: Age of Ultron left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.
Captain America: Civil War is due in UK cinemas on April 29.

Retro Comic Book Cover Gallery...

Wonder Woman Wednesday (Team-Up Month)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

[HOW] In A Week We Return To Cidri...

All being well, in a week's time, the Tuesday Knights will be returning to the magical world of Cidri for our final Heroes & Other Worlds session of the year.

In an epilogue to their last adventure the group has just discovered that they were complicit in releasing a tarrasque upon the world (the first seen in over half a millennia).

Again, if all falls into place, this is the start of the campaign's final arc, as a number of sub-plots come into play and - hopefully - the Tuesday Knights' characters will get their chance to shine and save the world.

Or die trying.

What happens next is still up in the air. It could well be a continuation of this campaign (although perhaps with a different rule set) or it could be an entirely new campaign (I'm currently kicking around ideas for a street-level superhero game, Victorian steampunkery, and modern-day monster-hunters)

More Flash Fun Tonight...

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